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"In the beginning"
Scientists have found compelling evidence that the universe had a beginning some 12-15 billion years ago. See Hugh Ross' Website Reasons to Believe.
6 Days of Creation
Ancient readers most likely took these days as literal days, but some early church fathers did not think the days should be taken literally, see St. Augustine. How old is the earth?
Archbishop Ussher calculated the beginning of creation at 4004 BC, but this is assuming that there are no gaps in the genealogies of Masoretic Text of Genesis and Exodus. In Hebrew "son" can mean "descendant" not just a direct father-son relationship. For example, Jesus is called the "son of David" yet a 1,000 years separate them. Genealogies were especially arranged like Jesus' in Matthew 1 where there are 3 groups of 14 names. Certain names were left out. In Luke 3:36 the name Cainan is included, but left out in Genesis 11. Because there are gaps in the genealogies of Genesis, one can not calculate an exact date as Ussher has done.
The early church used the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) as their Bible. There is about an addition 1,000 years in the genealogies of Genesis 5. The early church thought the world was going to end soon because 6,000 years of human history was almost up. It was a popular belief that the 6 days of creation stood for 6,000 years of history then the millenium would come where Christ returns and set up his kingdom on the earth. See the Epistle of Barnabas (chapter 15, 283-84 in Lightfoot-Harmer, or see The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers by LeRoy, Edwin & Froom, Vol.1, p.211).
Genealogies of Genesis
Sumerian King List: There seems to be a number of parallels between the Sumerian King list and the genealogies of Genesis 5. Some scholars equate Adam with the first Sumerian king Alulim. For more information see Was There An Historic Adam?
|The Flood||The Flood|
There is no doubt that Noah and Ziusudra refer to the same person. Adam may be identified with Alulim, the first king of Eridu, or his sage, Adapa. Enoch should be equated with Enmenduranna's sage, Utuabzu who was the seventh and last sage who ascended to heaven (see I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood edited by Hess and Tsumura, 1994, pages 224-233).
Scholars place the flood mentioned in cuneiform tablets and in Genesis at about 2900 BC. Sir Leonard Wooley while digging in Ur discovered a sediment layer that he attributed to Noah's flood (1929). This sensational news was later found to date too early for Noah's flood.
Scholars see the flood as just a local flood in the Mesopotamian valley, not a world wide flood. For more information on the flood see Noah's Flood.
The Patriarchal Period
The Patriarchal Period covers Genesis 12-50. The four main patriarchs are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. This period corresponds in Archaeology to the Middle Bronze Age in Israel.
There is some question has to which Ur Abraham was really from. There is an Ur in Northern Mesopotamia that is the most likely place for Abraham's home. See Where Was Abraham's Ur? Abraham is the father of the Jews by Sarah, and the father of the Arabs by Hagar.
IsaacGenesis 21- Isaac is born
Genesis 22- Abraham takes Isaac to sacrifice him
Genesis 23- Death of Sarah
Genesis 24- A wife, Rebekah is found for Isaac
Genesis 25- Death of Abraham, Birth of Jacob & Esau
Genesis 26- Isaac's conflicts with Abimelech (Abimelech is probably a title, not a personal name, the mention of the Philistines is anachronistic).
Genesis 27- Isaac blesses Jacob who deceives him
JacobGenesis 27- Jacob steals the blessing from Esau and plans to flee away
Genesis 28- Jacob dreams of a ladder to heaven
Genesis 29- Jacob arrives in Paddan Aram and marries Leah and Rachel
Genesis 30- Children born, flocks increase
Genesis 31- Jacob flees from Laban
Genesis 32- Jacob wrestles with God
Genesis 33- Jacob meets Esau and arrives at Shechem
Genesis 34- Dinah and Shechem
Genesis 35- Jacob returns to Bethel
Genesis 36- Esau's descendants
JosephJoseph at age 17 is sold as a slave into Egypt where he rises to power most likely under the Hyksos who ruled in Egypt from 1663-1555 BC. Genesis 37-50. For more information about the Joseph story see The Story of Joseph For more information about the Hyksos see Egyptian History: Second Intermediate Period - 1782-1570 BC.
I would identify the exodus with the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt in 1555 BC by Ahmose. For more information on the date of the Exodus see The Date of the Exodus According to Ancient Writers For the archaeological evidence of the Exodus see Evidence of the Exodus from Egypt.
Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan
There have been many scholars that have questioned the conquest of Canaan, but most are looking at the wrong time period. The end of the Middle Bronze Age is marked by destruction which might be the result of Joshua.
The period of the judges is like a role coast with many ups and downs from the conquest to the appointment of a king by Samuel. The Hapiru mentioned in the Armarna letters probably are the Hebrews. The Philistines came about 1190 BC and settled in Canaan after their defeat in Egypt.
United KingdomKing Saul
King David 1010-970 BC
King Solomon 970-930 BC
Divided KingdomRehoboam 930-913
Jeroboam I 930-909
Azariah (Uzziah) 792-740
Jeroboam II 793-753
Pekah 752 -732
Israel taken Captive by Assyria, 722 BCHezekiah 715-686
Nahum foretells Nineveh's fall in 612 BC
Jehoiakim 609- 598
Ezekiel in Babylon 605?
Jeremiah warns Battle of Karkemish
Zedekiah 597- 586
Jerusalem falls 586
Jeremiah writes Lamentations.
Babylonian Captivity 586-539 BC
Daniel and Ezekiel in Babylonian captivity.
Jews Return to Jerusalem
Cyrus the Great conquers Babylon in 539 BC and allows the Jews to return to Jerusalem. This is the beginning of the Persian Period of rule.